Mental Health Service Agencies Looking Into Additional Outreach

Mental health professionals planning program for general public to learn and better understand mental health issues


With the news that Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza suffered from mental health illnesses, much discussion has taken place about them along with speculation about risks of potential violence. Rockland County Department of Mental Health Commissioner Mary Ann Walsh-Tozer said local mental health service providers have been addressing the questions raised by their clients and are looking to organize a community forum with a partnership of public and private entities to reach out to the general public.

She said the idea is to determine “how we might add to the package of services that are accessible to people” through community workshops or discussions.

Walsh-Tozer said, “Our hope is to be able to do something within the month of January.” 

Jawonio Spokesperson Diana Hess said a possible community forum could include Jawonio, the county Mental Health Department, Mental Health Association of Rockland County, BOCES and others. 

“We’re looking forward to collaborating with the county, Mental Health Association and BOCES,” said Hess. “We’re going to be able to lend our expertise and compassion.”

Agencies already responded individually. Jawonio has been offering in-house counseling to its clients and employees, United Hospice of Rockland has been providing grief counseling and school districts made grief counselors available to students and staff. 

Hess said Jawonio wants to be part of the discussions that focus on Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome and to help de-stigmatize them.


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